Economic activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector continued to grow for the 17th consecutive month during December, according to a survey report on Monday.

The purchasing managers' index for manufacturing was at 57 percent in December, up from 56.6 percent in November, the ISM Manufacturing Report said.

New orders also continued to grow as the index touched 60.9 percent during the month, while production index was at 60.7 percent.

New orders for apparel, primary metals, furniture, computers, machinery and electrical equipment grew during the month, the demand for nonmetallic mineral products, paper, chemical and printing products dropped.

Respondents dealing with the nonmetallic mineral products stated that business remained slow, while vendors clamor for increases that should have no foundation in economics, the report said.

Raw material prices are facing severe pressure, particularly in the plastics and rubber products area.

Prices increased by 3 percentage points to 72.5 percent, while the backlog of orders index rose only by 1 percentage point indicating that it was contracting.

The employment index also dropped during the month to 55.7 percent, from 57.5 percent in November, as employment dropped in the areas where demand for new orders also fell.